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Full text of "My Country And My People"

318          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

we have not discovered and will not eat is cheese. The Mongols
could not persuade us to eat cheese, and the Europeans do not
have a greater chance of doing so.

It is useless to use logical reasoning in the matter of our food,
which is determined by prejudices. On both sides of the Atlan-
tic Ocean two shellfish are common, the soft-shelled clam,
Mja ar€naria9 and the edible mussel, Mjtilus edulis. The species
of these two molluscs are the same on both sides of the water.
In Europe, mussels are eaten freely, but not clams, while the
reverse is the case on the American side, according to the
authority of Dr. Charles W. Townsend (Scientific Monthly>,
July, 1928). Dr. Townsend also mentions the fact that floun-
ders fetch high prices in England and in Boston but are con-
sidered "not fit to eat" by Newfoundland villagers. We eat
mussels with the Europeans and eat clams with the Americans,
but we don't eat oysters raw as the Americans do. It is useless,
for instance, for anybody to convince me that snake's meat
tastes like chicken. I have lived in China forty years without
eating a snake, or seeing any of my relatives do so. Tales of
eating snakes travel faster than tales of eating chicken, but
actually we eat more chickens and better chickens than the
white people, and snake-eating is as much a curiosity to the
Chinese as it is to the foreigners.

All one can say is that we are very catholic in our tastes, and
that any rational man can take anything off a Chinese table
without any qualm of conscience. What famine dictates is not
for us human mortals to choose. There is nothing that a man
will not eat when hard pressed by hunger. And no one is
entitled to condemn until he knows what famine means. Some
of us have been forced in times of famine to eat babies—and
even this must be humanly rare—but, thank God, we do not
eat them raw as the English eat their beef!

If there is anything we are serious about, it is neither religion
nor learning, but food. We openly acclaim eating as one of
the few joys of this human life. This question of attitude is
very important, for unless we are honest about it we will never
be able to lift eating and cooking into an art* The difference
of attitude regarding the problem of food is represented in
Europe by the French and the English. The French eat